The term “Big Data” refers to massive volumes of data that grow at an increasing rate and encompass complex data types such as audio and video. While the applications of Big Data and analytic techniques for business purposes have received considerable attention, it is less clear how external sources of Big Data relate to the transaction processing-oriented world of accounting information systems. This paper uses the Resource-Event-Agent Enterprise Ontology (REA) (McCarthy 1982; International Standards Organization [ISO] 2007) to model the implications of external Big Data sources on business transactions. The five-phase REA-based specification of a business transaction as defined in ISO (2007) is used to formally define associations between specific Big Data elements and business transactions. Using Big Data technologies such as Apache Hadoop and MapReduce, a number of information extraction patterns are specified for extracting business transaction-related information from Big Data. We also present a number of analytics patterns to demonstrate how decision making in accounting can benefit from integrating specific external Big Data sources and conventional transactional data. The model and techniques presented in this paper can be used by organizations to formalize the associations between external Big Data elements in their environment and their accounting information artifacts, to build architectures that extract information from external Big Data sources for use in an accounting context, and to leverage the power of analytics for more effective decision making.

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